It was a last-minute decision that took Jesuton to Rio de Janeiro. Born and raised in London, Jesuton – full name Rachel Jesuton Olaolu Amosu – has always had two major influences in her life; a compelling pull towards Latin America and a passion for music. After graduating from Oxford University, Jesuton moved to Peru and eventually to Brazil. Originally heading for Fortaleza in the north of Brazil, she made a spur of the moment choice to try Rio instead. It was on the streets of Rio that Jesuton carved out her remarkable career as a singer and songwriter.
Inspired after seeing another artist singing on the streets of Ipanema, she started to perform at Largo do Machado and Largo da Carioca. Videos of her performing quickly spread on the internet and her talent was spotted by Luciano Huck, a Brazilian TV presenter, who invited her to appear on his show. Soon after, Jesuton launched her first single and now has an album fittingly titled, Home. Culture Trip spoke with Jesuton about how a British girl came to Brazil and became a successful singer in Rio de Janeiro.
How would you define your music?
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
My music is the soundtrack to my life so far, I mix genres and sounds as tools to express emotions as closely to the lived experience as possible. The album I released this year is the first album of songs where I have written and/or co-produced all the songs. It sounds like a mixture of R’n’B, indie rock, and trip-hop. On the album, the songs are all snapshots of moments and so they all have weight and purpose for me. Though at the moment, I have a special place in my heart for Belonging from the album. The song is about belonging to things that take control of you and eat away at what you are and can be. It was difficult to admit to myself how things had got so out of hand and speak honestly about my experience with this.
How did you end up coming to Rio de Janeiro?
For as long as I can remember, I felt an inexplicable connection with Latin America, a particular curiosity about the continent. I made my first trip during a summer break from university. From then on, all I wanted was to see how I could go back. After I finished studying, I found an internship and lived in Peru for two years. I started hearing things about Brazil that made me want to spend time here. It was another connection that I couldn’t explain. Like when you’re at the airport and look up at the announcement board and one place in particular just gives you butterflies in your stomach. I had that feeling about Rio de Janeiro for a while before ever having set foot in Brazil.
Brazil is the biggest country in the continent with a completely different language and has its own universe of music and culture. I didn’t know anything about it and for that reason, it was so attractive to me. When I made my decision to give up my job and give myself a year to try making music work – I immediately thought about Brazil. I thought, if I am going to start again, it makes sense to start again in an entirely new country. Sometimes the biggest barriers to change are the ones that we have in our own minds and I felt that being far from familiarity would force a shakeup as far as that’s concerned. Also, I’m a bit addicted to multitasking.
What are your musical influences? How has Brazilian music (if at all) inspired you?
The harmonic complexity of MBP [Brazilian Pop Music] has always fascinated me in comparison with the pop music I grew up with. But I am particularly drawn to Brazilian rap Nacional, how it is always freely fusing with other Brazilian genres and how it talks about things that I can relate to, like black identity in 2017 and the marginalised figures in society.
Did you used to sing in London?
No. I wanted to but the stage fright was really way too intense back then.
You started singing on the streets in Rio de Janeiro. Had you done this before? How did you feel about singing in public?
I had not. Coming to Rio, I didn’t have any tools at my disposal to go down the more traditional path of creating a band, I guess. So I did what I could with what I had, and that amounted to doing solo shows on the street. In many ways, it was entirely liberating. I suffered from bad stage fright growing up, so have spent my life being equally drawn to and repelled from the stage. To arrive in Brazil, start calling myself a ‘singer’ and to start singing on the streets on a completely different continent…I definitely felt like a total imposter at first. But as I saw people connecting with my music, I grew in confidence and also my love for Brazil grew – I thought that any place that can be so accepting right off the bat, can’t be a bad place to be.
How did your career grow from there?
I recorded my first album of cover songs and started touring. I released a DVD Show Me Your Soul in homage to Motown, and we toured Brazil with that show too. I’ve participated in lots of projects with friends, tried a lot of things. Now it feels great to have the opportunity to present more of me, to explore what I’ve been needing to say in this new album.
How does it feel to gain popularity and carve a successful career in a foreign country?
I feel grateful. To get this far, I have had the good fortune to have met incredible people who have been open and generous with their time and talents and in support of me and my career – personally and professionally. It also feels odd at times, too. I love Brazil but I am still a very British girl at heart. How at home can you be, away from home? How much is London still my home after all this time? It has produced a lot of questions. But I always have lots of questions. I put them in my songs.
What has been your biggest career highlight in Rio de Janeiro?
Having Seu Jorge record a song I wrote would definitely be one. He was my muse long before I thought about coming to Brazil.
In 2013, your remake of Dione Warwick’s I’ll Never Love this way Again was played nearly every day on Globo’s Salve Jorge and you performed at Rock in Rio. How will 2017 compare to 2013’s success?
I am in a completely different place. I am in control of my career creatively speaking and from a business perspective. I no longer feel like I have to follow the lead of others and am grateful to the wisdom and guidance I received in those early years here in Brazil that gave me the possibility to be doing this now. 2017 is already a much bigger success just to be able to be able to say this.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.